Manual of Canine and Feline Shelter Medicine: Principles of Health and Welfare in a Multi-animal Environment, by Rachel Dean, Margaret Roberts, Jenny Stavisky January 2019. Shelter medicine is a newly emerging clinical discipline in veterinary medicine. It is a recognized speciality in the United States and interest is growing across the rest of the world.
Manual of Canine and Feline Shelter Medicine: Principles of Health and Welfare in a Multi-animal Environment
Shelter medicine encompasses vital aspects of physical and psychological health and welfare, infectious disease management, epidemiology, diagnostic testing and population control. The challenge of being a good shelter medicine clinician is balancing the health and welfare needs of the individual with that of the larger population from which it originates. Simultaneously, it is essential to be cognisant of the culture, ethos, polices and resources of the organization which shelters the animal. The clinical setting is vastly different to that of private practice, requiring a different set of skills and an informed and pragmatic approach.
The manual is divided into three sections:
The first section covers the principles of shelter medicine, describing how to approach problems and be an effective decision maker within the shelter context. It includes the concepts of ‘herd health’ and epidemiology, which are usually applied in a large animal context. In addition, different perceptions and definitions of ethics and animal welfare are covered, and how to incorporate them into clinical decision-making, including population control and euthanasia.
The second section of Manual of Canine and Feline Shelter Medicine covers the prevention, management and control of infectious diseases and the management of behaviour in the shelter environment. The major infectious disease syndromes are presented by affected body system, rather than by pathogen, for ease of use in clinical situations. The second half of this section focuses on the psychological and emotional effects of caring for large numbers of cats and dogs within a single environment. The importance of socialization of young animals and environmental enrichment is covered, and an approach to training fearful cats and dogs is included.
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The third section of the manual encompasses the ‘people aspect’ of shelter medicine. Providing clinical care for animals in shelters has to be done alongside the people working there and with an understanding of the objectives, policies and values of the individual organization that runs the shelter. Some organizations focus on rehoming, while others face the challenges of dealing with problematic situations, such as hoarding and non-accidental injury; an introduction to these aspects of shelter medicine is included.
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